The Duchess is here. Exclusive with DJ/Producer Royalty
Royalty of the Electronic Music Kingdom is here, catch her vibe at here.
Duchess: But I mean, I guess just that kind of follows as you’re producing your own music. So eventually you are going to want to play your own gigs and stuff too.
LASM x TDR: Well let’s give it up for Duchess then.
Duchess: Great name honey. I love that name. yeah. Speaking of the name. it was actually three years ago when I started actually playing gigs and I, my name is Karen and I didn’t feel like Karen was really appropriate name for like electronic Dj. Dj Karen doesn’t sound right.
LASM x TDR: How did the Duchess come about then?
Duchess: It was actually just one of my girlfriend’s idea. And I was like; I guess that could work especially because most of my gigs were in Hollywood. It’s kind of like it’ll work for Hollywood. And then, when I started releasing some of my first songs, kind of just stuck to me. Cool. And what was it?
LASM x TDR: I feel like it screams bow down. Absolutely. I feel like it screams Hollywood royalty.
Duchess: There was also like a lot of like easy marketing opportunities around it as far as like, my first mix series. It was called ‘Message to the Dupe.’ And another example, my friend owns a jewelry brand called w, x, y, z. And they do, like geometric, like headpieces and one of them is a crown. So that kind of just like, what’s my first Promo photo shoot wearing the crown. So yeah, it just worked and yeah.
LASM x TDR: Cool. It got you this far. I like that. So can you tell us where are you from? Because we hear a little accent, little twang in there.
Duchess: Why don’t you start hanging out with me a lot? You start hearing it. I’m from Iceland, born and raised. I moved to L.A. when I was 20, 6 years ago. And, yeah, pretty much haven’t left
LASM x TDR: Was it a small town you’re raised in and how did you deal with that culture change when you came to L.A.?
Duchess: Well, I mean, the population there is like below 300,000, so the entire country’s kind of like a small town.
LASM x TDR: There’s almost 500,000 realtors alone in California.
Duchess: It was definitely a drastic change coming out here. But there’s no such thing as like pursuing electronic music in Iceland unfortunately, yet. So when I wanted to go to music school, L.A. was obviously like the ideal place to come and do that.
LASM x TDR: So that’s amazing. That’s so bold. Did you know anyone out here?
Duchess: Yeah, my sister actually, she’s a singer, and songwriter and a pianist. And she’s been out here for I think 10 years now. So like having her out here, it was obviously more like a motive to come as well.
LASM x TDR: Right. You knew you’d be supported.
Duchess: Yeah, exactly.
LASM x TDR: That’s a great feeling coming to California.
LASM x TDR: So, within your music then, what would you describe your sound?
Duchess: I think that it’s really important that like electronic music remains like true to its core as far as, where music is originated from, which is real instruments.
LASM x TDR: I love it. I love that Duchess.
Duchess: So all my original production contained some sort of real instruments, live instruments like that are recorded and then manipulated in the production itself. Everybody has their own thing. But for me, as far as like creating a motion with your music, I just think that’s a little challenging if it’s all like computer made. So yeah, that’s probably…
LASM x TDR: So then I can gather that you play instruments. What do you play?
Duchess: I play the piano. And, I mean, like, I studied piano as a kid, so I know music theory and so like, I can play. I can record some like bass chords and stuff, but I don’t necessarily play a full song or anything. But knowing music theory and having that background is really important.
LASM x TDR: Well, I just want to tell you, I have mad respect for you. Like when I hear people talk about instrumentation and like full sound. Everything is so computerized. And I remember you were saying that your sister played the piano, who was here before you? So that’s already like, I’m like, okay. So she, they know about like instruments, like pianos like the foundation of it all. Yeah, maybe drums first and then piano. So with that being said, since you are like, what I consider a real musician because you have respect for instrumentation and not just everything computerized, where do your influences come from?
Duchess: So, I come…
LASM x TDR: Musically?
Duchess: … I come from, my entire family. They’re all musicians. My dad’s a musician. My brother is, my sister is, so like I grew up just in music. And my dad was, I can say without hesitation, he was in the like most popular pop band of his generation. Like back in the ‘90s.
LASM x TDR: … It’s in your DNA. So what’s his name? I want to know.
Duchess: … His name is Gretar and…
LASM x TDR: Gretar. And this is in Iceland?
Duchess: This is in Iceland.
LASM x TDR: Like he performed all around Iceland. Okay. Wow.
Duchess: I don’t know if any of you have heard of a song contest and in Europe called Eurovision. Best way to describe how like significant that is over there is to compare it to I guess the Super Bowl. Like, that’s how seriously people in Europe take it. So it’s this contest where each country from Europe, they bring one song in the contest and like, then the whole nation votes and one country wins. And speaking of like Iceland, I think it’s the smallest country in Europe. So my dad’s band placed third in 1990, fourth in 1992 and then some years later, 10th. And so he’s like, been up there and we are the smallest country in Europe. So, he’s, a lot of respect for my dad. Yeah, he really crushed it.
LASM x TDR: Let’s give it up for dad. We got to look him up. For sure.
Duchess: Yeah. So influences like, since he was a pop artist, I guess, David Foster, Baby Face … just those were his biggest influences. So that’s kind of like what I grew up listening to. So as far as like, just a lot of melodic like elements in my electronic music, that’s definitely the influence.
LASM x TDR: She’s only 26-years-old. Listening to Baby Face and George Michael like was he even alive when you, and I’m just end up just, it’s like you know real music girl. I’m loving you right now. Do you think that you would go back and compete in the same thing that he did.
Duchess: Most likely not because I think like that contest in particular is more like a pop, like kind of song contest. I have yet to see anyone submit an electronic track to that. But who knows. I don’t know if maybe me and my dad all work together one day and…
LASM x TDR: I hope so. That will be pretty cool.
Duchess: Never know it might happen.
LASM x TDR: Even if just for performance, you know what I’m saying? And then before you know it, you just lay that track. Even if you’re laying it live. You’ve got to do that. I feel that. I feel that.
Duchess: I wouldn’t be surprised if one day I would compete in it. But…
LASM x TDR: I’m so going to listen to George Michael as soon as we finish this interview. I just wanted to say that it’s on my mind.
Duchess: …Just like if you’re in a funk, just listen to George Michael.
LASM x TDR: Okay. So, are there any like projects that you are working on or any ideas you have, anything that you want to bring to light?
Duchess: I’m currently, the goal for this year in particular is, I have two e-piece that I’m working on. One of them is my own. It’s been a work in progress for a long time. I’m really like, I need everything to be perfect. I’ll sit over a high hat for eight hours. It’s just like that.
LASM x TDR: That’s why you’re amazing.
Duchess: Thank you. But that and then, I do have a dual project that I’m also working on that I can’t really announce yet. So…
LASM x TDR: Really! Why did you even mention it. We can’t wait. We’ll be patient.
Duchess: Wait for it.
LASM x TDR: So you are sure you’re going to be back. You’re coming back to tell us about this is going on.
Duchess: Definitely. So I would say those are the main focuses at the moment. That, and I’m playing two festivals, which is kind of like what I would ideally want to end up kind of only doing like. I really like the whole festival, like scene and playing those big shows where it’s like a community type of thing more so than just a nightclub.
LASM x TDR: Right!
Duchess: So, I’m playing a Lightning in a Bottle this year here in California.
LASM x TDR: Exciting.
Duchess: And then, the second year that they are hosting, I don’t know if you guys have heard about it. It’s called Art with Me in Tulum. I played there last year. So I played there last year and playing there again in this year as well.
LASM x TDR: What has been your favorite place thus far that you’ve performed at?
Duchess: Definitely Lightning in a Bottle last year. That was like, it was just unbelievable. It’s just one of those festivals where it’s just such a, like loving community, mentality over there. So, I’ve never seen more like engagement with the crowd. I was playing for. So that was just like, yeah, definitely like an unbelievable experience for me.
LASM x TDR: I got a Deep House trivia for you. So where the house music come from?
Duchess: House Music come from, have any of you seen the documentary called Pump up the Volume?
LASM x TDR: Yes, I have.
Duchess: Okay. So you know.
LASM x TDR: Exactly. That’s why it’s sexy.
Duchess: Answers your question.
LASM x TDR: We have an electronic music people in here. And I’m from Chicago, so…
LASM x TDR: …just Chicago, Detroit, then Europe. Yeah.